The Algeria-Morocco border has been closed since 1994 after Rabat imposed visa regulations on Algerian citizens following a terror attack on the Atlas Asni Hotel in Marrakech.
Rabat – Algerian presidential candidate Abdelmadjid Tebboune has asked Morocco to apologize for closing the border with Algeria after the Atlas Asni hotel attack in Marrakech in August 1994.
In 2010 a former Algerian agent revealed to The National, part of the London based Quds Press International News Agency, that the Algerian intelligence services were allegedly behind the “planning and execution of the attack.”
Karim Moulay told the press agency that he was “dispatched by Algerian intelligence to Morocco in April 1994 with the mission of initiating some security breaches in order to foment instability in the country.”
In the wake of the attack, Morocco imposed visa regulations on Algerian citizens, and Algeria closed the border.
Tebboune, a former prime minister, spoke about the frozen relations between Algiers and Rabat during a press conference on Sunday, November 24, as part of his election campaign.
Tebboune argued that Morocco should issue a “formal apology” to Algiers as a condition for reopening its borders with Morocco.
For Tebboune, Algeria’s decision to close the border was not due to the Western Sahara conflict.
Algeria publicly supports, finances, and arms the Polisario Front, a breakaway group, and backs its independence claims.
Tebboune said that Algeria rejects the claims of its “involvement in the case of the Atlas Asni bombings in Marrakech.”
He also condemned Morocco’s decision to impose visa regulations on Algerian citizens.
He claimed that “Algerians have been stranded in the Moroccan territories and visa regulations were imposed on Algerians of French origin.”
The candidate emphasized, however, that the country has respect for the Moroccan people. Tebboune added that “Algeria has dignity and cannot accept anyone who tramples on its dignity.”
In contrast to what Tebboune said during the conference, Morocco has expressed its willingness to restore diplomatic relations with Algeria several times.
On November 6, 2018, King Mohammed VI made an unprecedented call, inviting Algeria to engage in a frank and direct dialogue with Morocco to break the stalemate.
“I should like to say today, in a very straightforward and responsible way, that Morocco stands ready for a direct and frank dialogue with our sister nation, Algeria, in order to settle the transient and objective differences impeding the development of relations between the two countries,” said King Mohammed VI in his speech.
Algeria, however, opposes Morocco’s policy positions, especially its sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Tebboune is not the only candidate who has put the spotlight on Morocco as part of their election campaigns.
Abdelkader Bengrina, a former tourism minister and now a contender for the country’s presidential seat, also made a controversial statement about Morocco.
He accused Morocco of being a “major drug exporter.”
“All I can tell you is that [Morocco’s] drug exports are estimated in billions and not in millions of dollars,” Bengrina said.